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Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Neil Gaiman Booksigning

A week ago Monday I woke up and experienced one of those nagging feelings in the back of my mind.  I couldn’t quite figure out what it was I was needing to do and it wasn’t until about 10:30am that I figured it out.

In Decatur, GA there is a locally owned bookstore named Little Shop of Stories.  Little Shop of Stories held a “Graveyard Book” Halloween party this year for a competition and, along with a story in Winnipeg, they won!  The reward?  A Neil Gaiman book signing.  And last Monday they opened up their phone lines to give away 100 tickets – 1 per each phone call.

1 1/2 hours later (and one phone death just as I’d finally gotten through), I had myself a pair of tickets. Tina and I were going to see Neil Gaiman at Agnes Scott College.  I was thrilled!

So off I went, armed with my copy of The Graveyard Book. Now, I don’t know what made me think that there would only be about 200 people there (The shop had given out 100 tickets in person as well), but what  a silly thing to think.  The final count was 1050 (according to Gaiman).  And there were children, lots of them as well!

Neil started the evening off by reading from Odd and the Frost Giants.  He told us how this book came about.  Apparently, in Europe, there is a National Reading Month (I couldn’t hear very well, but I think this is right).  And for this celebration, the authors write a short novel, for free.  The publishers publish it, for free (it must be short because that’s how much “free paper” they said they have, quipped Gaiman).  The bookstores give the books out in exchange for tokens, which children get, for free.  What an incredible and awesome idea.

So Gaiman began to read and everyone went silent.  In his dry, “British-y” voice, the story came to life.  We all giggled and were enraptured by the story.

Gaiman then answered some questions.  We learned how the story of Coraline came about, and we learned of the background to The Graveyard Book.  We also learned that people in the movie business are.. not all that bright (Does the Graveyard Book movie need to be set in a Graveyard?).  He gave us his opinion of T.S. Eliot, he spoke on the meaning of life.  He entertained us greatly for about 30 minutes.

And then he read from The Graveyard Book.  And the experience was.. incredible.

Afterward, Tina and I waited with some new friends until midnight to get our books signed.  He personalized each signing with a drawn graphic or a word suited to just that book.  Tina’s copy of Coraline got a picture of a mouse creeping across her title page.  Odd and the Frost Giants received the word “Dream”.  And my copy of The Graveyard Book … well…

Some other photos from the event.  Our new friend, Venessa, took these (www.venessagiunta.com) and graciously shared them with us!

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  • Sisters are both a blessing and a curse.
  • I am smack dab in the middle of a hurricane in my apartment.  There are boxes and clothes and kitty toys everywhere.
  • I just purchased new bedding for my room in Georgia that looks like this:

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  • I now have a new haircut that features bangs (which I decided on a gut feeling last night at the salon and now am deeply regretting)
  •  I just also purchased a new Bible!
  • For some reason I had four containers of baking powder in my dry goods cabinet.
  • Tomorrow I am taking my sister Candace to see Stardust and then we are going out for sushi!

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  • The big news is I’m moving – to Atlanta, GA in a few weeks. I think it will be a good move. Prayers are appreciated for a smooth packing/moving trip and settling in period.
  • Sergei realizes something is up. He’s become 100% more talkative and has taken to using my feet as a bed whenever I am still for more than five seconds. You’d think after the 50th time of being stepped on last night he’d realize that’s not so much a good idea.
  • I am thoroughly enjoying my last days of living alone and (fairly) responsibility free.
  • My newest favorite drink is Berry Flavored Propel. For some reason, I really hate drinking normal water unless it’s iced good and cold – but since we have no ice at work, Propel it is!
  • The list of things I have to get done grows by the hour – and the things that have been done grows by the day. Need to figure out a way to fix that.
  • I am thrilled at the thought of being able to go to the Atlanta Zoo and the new Aquarium.
  • My piano goes with me – for those of you who are wondering.
  • I’m sure in the weeks to come after I have adjusted a little to big city life I will have lots of interesting stories as I learn to drive in TRAFFIC.
  • Courtesy of Lolcatz – this is a great representation of what Sergei would do for me before the great de-clawing adventure of 2007.

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I can’t believe it’s already Friday – but I’ve been out of the office in Omaha for the past three days and time does fly.

  • When renting a car for a roadtrip – make sure it at least has three things that ours did not.  Cruise control, an overhead light and (at least) a cassette tape player.  My poor ipod was singing through two very cheap speakers for six hours.
  • The zoo in 90 degree weather is not a good idea.
  • Seeing friends after 12 years is a good idea.  I loved being able to pick right up where we left off.
  • The two hardest letters to find on signs along the interstate are “J” and “Z”
  • I found out I no longer get carsick when I read in the car.  I also found out that the sun sets too early when you are able to read. (see: no overhead light)
  • Tonight I enjoy a corn boil – thanks to the Chillicothe Corn Fest.  I will also enjoy listening to Ac Rock.
  • Tomorrow is the BIG DAY.  Feel free to email me, participate in some events I will be posting about, call me (if you need my number, email me) and help me keep going with your encouragement this weekend.

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My “Other” Life

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Back in the day I did my stint – playing on the Commodore 64 with games like Pac-Man and Oregon Trail. My friends across the street in our neighborhood had an Atari which we totally loved to play with.

As the 80’s passed and my family got a “real” computer (Pentium II!) in the 90’s I migrated more toward fantasy role-playing games and began writing short stories as a result. Most of the stories I wrote dealt within the context f the game I played, and I wish I saved some of them because they were pretty good.

Then I discovered MMORPGs. (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games – try saying that outloud five times) Since January of 2001 I’ve devoted a lot of my free time building a solid friend base over a variey of games, from EverQuest (my first) through Ultima Online, Dark Ages of Camelot, EverQuest II, Eve Online and World of Warcraft. I know my family despaired of me for a while there, and that they are happy to see me incorporating more of a “real life” into my life – but I still make time for playing – mostly because of the incredible network of friends I’ve made.

There’s a lot of debate in the online world on whether these a games are just games or if they are a community. As the world becomes more and more accepting of online dating websites, message boards, Facebook, Myspace and various blogs it’s easy to see how through a medium such as an online game people can form bonds, relationships – both romantic and friendships and even develop dislikes of each other.

I suppose I could look back on my gaming “career” as wasted time – but then I’d be denying the people who have helped shape and change me (for the better) throughout the last several years. And warning – I’m going to get sappy here.

Roland and Jocelyn – you two supported me when I was in my lowest low. You’ve taught me that it’s really okay to be strong and that things do work out. I love you guys.

Jesse – You and I have been through some major things. I am so very thrilled that you are getting married this year!! I hope our friendship continues to remain strong, and I expect an invite!

Adrienne – You were one of those dislikes that I had, but you really have come through over the last months. Thank you for the girlchat, for the laughter you provide me and for your insane stories. They make me feel normal.

D – I learned how to really love someone with you. Thank you for teaching me how to open up again.

Online gaming isn’t about all the horrors that you read about in the papers. It’s a community.. We’re just people from all over the world gathering together in an interactive chat room of sorts and hanging out. I’m glad I have this medium to have fun with my friends – and thankful that it was there for me to meet them in the first place.

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Links for 6/27/07

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

  • In honor of this month being National Fruit and Vegetable Month.

Household Magazine

  • A copy of a 1951 issue. Kind of fun to look at the ads from back then.

The best airline complaint

  • And I thought not having an exit row seat was bad.

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Disney, Part 2

So last week my old roommate from the Disney College Program showed up to crash at my place over Wednesday night. She hasn’t changed a bit – and it was great to see her.

We sat reminiscing all evening and reminding each other of memories long forgotten. Here are some of those with the second installment of my Disney memories, tips and tricks:

My roommates were Robynne, Amy, Kim, Erica and Allison. Robynne, Amy and I got along the best – and between the three of us we spanned the U.S. Robynne was from San Francisco, CA, I was from the Univ. of Wyoming at the time with a hometown in Illinois and then Amy was from New York. We had some great times. Robynne worked in the MGM Studios, in the little shops just before the Tower of Terror. Amy worked in the Lady and the Tramp restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (my fingers smell like calamari!!) and I worked the popcorn/soda/espresso stands in the Magic Kingdom.

My other three roommates varied. Kim was from New Jersey (I think?) and on her last day in the program got her tongue pierced. She was quiet and I don’t think she liked us much. Erica was super annoying. Just… really… annoying. She also had a sister that always came over and wouldn’t shut up. Allison was our resident out-of-place girl. You know the type – perfect make-up, always dressed just right, giggles a lot, has lots of guys hanging about. She hated it in our room for the first few weeks but gradually started to warm up to us. She worked at MGM Studio’s seating people for the shows.

This all leads into a kind of crazy story. Allison’s main squeeze that Fall of ’97 was a man named Isaac. Isaac worked in the Indiana Jones show in MGM Studio’s as a stuntman. Isaac was a huge, black man with the deepest voice I’ve ever heard and he hung out with us often in the room chatting with us. Isaac is also Isaac Singleton Jr. He said he wanted to get into the movies and it looks like he got his break in ’98. Good for you, Isaac!!

To this day I can still say “Please stand clear of the doors” in Spanish. I don’t speak any other Spanish, except the Spanish equivalent of $3.50 (the price of the popcorn buckets).

I learned how to say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards. You can too!

Cast members come up with the craziest, most magical stories. In Traditions (the introductory Disney class in which you are brainwashed into the Disney™ look/act) they tell a few of these stories. (Do not read the bullet point paragraphs if you want to retain some Disney magic.)

 

  • Apparently one Snow White had a smoking addiction and used her break to smoke. Upon arriving back in the area to sign autographs, one of the little kids near her plugged his nose and said, “Ew, Snow White smells like she’s been smoking.” A cast member, upon hearing the little boy, promptly stepped in and said, “No, Snow White doesn’t smoke. I saw her on her break! She was hanging around that evil Cruella DeVil!”

 

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  • A common question asked by children is why there is a wire from Tomorrowland to the Castle in the Magic Kingdom. Parents are always overheard saying that it’s how Tinkerbell stays up in the air during the fireworks show. Parents, please tell your children from now on that it’s a line that Peter Pan drew in the sky so Tinkerbell wouldn’t get lost. Thanks.
  • One cast member was quick on his feet one day when, while watching Chip and Dale sign autographs, he heard a child ask his mom why Dale and Dale were out there instead of Chip and Dale. (Dale is the chipmunk with the red nose). The cast member gasped for the child’s benefit and said, “Oh my, we need to fix that!” and hustled the chipmunks into the back area, where one of the Dale’s quickly put on Chip’s head). When they came back out the boy was suspicious, so the cast member informed him quietly that out back Jafar had been casting spells and had turned Chip into Dale! At that moment Jafar came out and bowed in apology to the boy. Boy, those cast members can make some magic.

Some interesting trivia – the Haunted Mansion has several chess pieces featured on its architecture. One piece is missing, however. The Knight – because when you enter the building… you are entering the night.

 

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Also, the grass at the Haunted Mansion is cut with scissors to give it that raggedly look. For a great overview of one of the stories (and my personal favorite) read this. (p.s. the ring is embedded in the sidewalk outside of the exit of the ride. If you visit, keep an eye out for it.)

My favorite places to eat: Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian, Victoria and Albert’s at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian Luau at the Polynesian Resort, Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot – and for the best pastry in the world, try Schoolbread in Norway. It’s incredible.

My favorite places to sit: Just outside the Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot, at the fountain in France in Epcot and anywhere on the boardwalk around the BoardWalk Inn Resort.

We most often stay at the BoardWalk Inn or the Beach Club resorts – but while I was in the College Program I stayed at Vista Way in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

So those are a few more of my memories and I hope you enjoyed reading them. My time at Disney was a wonderful time, and one that provided a lifetime of stories for me to tell.

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